Because billboards in train stations weren’t being leveraged enough to inform us of exciting retail opportunities, some City Circle and Northern Line stations have been graced with giant LED screens and speakers. These play loud, flashy video advertisements; though for safety reasons they’re respectfully turned off when trains approach.

To fill time during periods where exciting marketing opportunities are lacking, weary evening office workers are subjected to a line of filler material from HealthyMeTV. Because nothing says mental and physical health like a giant, overly bright screen blaring at us HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO BE HEALTHY. WATCH ME MAKE THIS HEALTHY SHAKE, AND DIVE IN THIS POOL, AND WORK OUT.

With obesity in society yada yada, you can understand why a marketing executive somewhere thought this was a good idea. Why not kill two birds with one stone, and use empty airtime and an involuntarily captive audience to spread awareness of healthy living?

Three key problems.

  • When we’re subjected to advertising in other channels (websites, radio, television), we do so of our own volition; they come with the media. On train platforms, we can’t escape the noise and glare by changing channels or websites.

  • They’re worse than billboards precisely because they overwhelm so many of our senses.

  • Thirdly, we’re tired and prefer not to have patronising stuff disguised under a thinly veiled smile directed at us.

As with so much advertising, it’s not so much the message as it is the execution. The two are inextricably linked, and I don’t think enough people in management positions appreciate that.